WBEZ | police brutality http://www.wbez.org/tags/police-brutality Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Recent incidents cast doubt on Hammond police accountability, critics say http://www.wbez.org/news/recent-incidents-cast-doubt-hammond-police-accountability-critics-say-111228 <p><p>Activists will rally in Hammond, Indiana this weekend to highlight concerns about police brutality.</p><p>A controversial traffic stop there led to accusations of excessive force and has become part of a national debate over how to hold police accountable. Critics say that case and another recent incident shows that Hammond&#39;s system for policing the police is broken.</p><p>&ldquo;There needs to be a fair, transparent process in place for citizens to voice their concerns especially when they have a complaint against the police,&rdquo; says attorney Trent McCain, who is based in Merrillville, Indiana.</p><p>McCain is representing Norma Maldonado and her partner Dario Lemus in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Hammond Police Department.</p><p>The family&rsquo;s 2 year old pit-bull dog Lily was shot last June by a responding police officer who was dispatched on reports that a dog was loose.</p><p>Police say the dog lunged at Officer Timothy Kreischer, which justified shooting the animal.</p><p>Maldonado disputes that claim.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NWI%20Cops%203%20Lily%20the%20dog%20.jpg" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="Lilly the dog" />&ldquo;Lily was running at me and I can see the blood all over her. That&rsquo;s when he started to lower his gun and I just started screaming &lsquo;why did you shoot my dog? Why did you shoot her?&rsquo; He was frozen for a while and just staring at us, like he didn&rsquo;t know what to say,&rdquo; Maldonado said. &ldquo;I was screaming why did you shoot her? He said because she was loose. I said &lsquo;no she wasn&rsquo;t.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Maldonado says her house was protected by an invisible fence system, which the city says is prohibited in Hammond because they can fail.</p><p>The dog survived after thousands of dollars in veterinary care.</p><p>Maldonado, however, remains upset because she says the officer fired his weapon just a few feet from her young son.</p><p>Maldonado says she showed up at the police department to file a formal complaint against the officer, but was told she couldn&rsquo;t.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t understand why I was denied that right to make the complaint against them. So, I just felt that all doors were closed for me,&rdquo; Maldonado said.</p><p>McCain says he&rsquo;s not sure why Maldonado was turned away from filing a complaint.</p><p>&ldquo;My clients attempted to file a citizen&rsquo;s complaint several times after their dog was shot within a few feet of their 7-year-old son,&rdquo; McCain said. &ldquo;They got the cold shoulder from the City of Hammond and received the runaround each time they tried to lodge a complaint.&rdquo;</p><p>Hammond police declined to comment on the Maldonado case.</p><p>Maldonado went on to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city for the pain inflicted on the family and the officer&rsquo;s alleged reckless action in shooting the dog.</p><p>McCain said all of this could&rsquo;ve been avoided with a proper system for filing complaints to an independent review board.</p><p>&ldquo;The police are there to protect and serve and if they are not performing their duties in the proper fashion and people are getting hurt, and their civil rights are being violated, then they need to have a voice or an opportunity to bring their complaints to the proper bodies,&rdquo; McCain said.</p><p>Hammond police spokesman Lt. Richard Hoyda said citizens can lodge complaints in person, on its website or through the city&rsquo;s Human Relations Commission.</p><p>A spokesman for the commission told WBEZ it recorded only two complaints this year against police and none last year.</p><p>The city wouldn&rsquo;t confirm that number, but it says all complaints are investigated.</p><p>Hammond city attorney Kristina Kantar stated in a letter to WBEZ that Indiana law does not require it to release information regarding citizen complaints unless it results in disciplinary action against an officer.</p><p>That means no Hammond police officers have been suspended, demoted or fired in the past two years.</p><p>That includes officers Charles Turner and Patrick Vicari, who are named in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a Hammond couple, Lisa Mahone and Jamal Jones,&nbsp;who were stopped in late September for not wearing their seatbelts.</p><p>The tense, 13 minute traffic stop was captured on a cell phone by Mahone&rsquo;s teenage son sitting in the back seat with his young sister. aAfter Jones repeatedly refused requests to exit the vehicle, the video shows police smashing passenger window, tasing Jones and arresting him.</p><p>Police said the officers feared that Jones might have a weapon.</p><p>The incident sparked a media frenzy, with many comparing Hammond to Ferguson, Missouri. In the weeks after the incident, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said the officers would face a disciplinary hearing.</p><p>&ldquo;The two officers (Vicari and Turner) are going to appear before the Board of Captains meeting. It is a disciplinary hearing, it doesn&rsquo;t mean discipline is sure to follow,&rdquo; McDermott told WBEZ in early November.</p><p>However, that disciplinary hearing never happened. And a few weeks later the officers were back on the street, despite the fact that the FBI still is investigating the incident.</p><p>Critics say this demonstrates the need for stronger oversight to deal with alleged police misconduct.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no infrastructure in place in Northwest Indiana that really addresses that concern,&rdquo; said Dr. Gregory Jones, professor of Theology at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NWI%20Cops%201%20Dr_0.jpg" style="height: 185px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Valparaiso University professor Dr. Gregory Jones" />Dr. Jones also heads the Northwest Indiana African American Alliance. The Alliance tracks possible racial profiling in areas like Valparaiso, Gary and Hammond.</p><p>&ldquo;Poor people of color are often intimidated off of dealing with that issue. If we look at the Hispanic/Latino community, we look at poor African-Americans and poor whites, we need some levels of accountability there,&rdquo; Jones said.</p><p>In Valparaiso, which has struggled with race relations over the years,&nbsp;Dr. Jones says he has a dedicated partner in addressing racial profiling in Mayor Jon Costas.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the Valparaiso Police Department is a great police department. I think we can give leadership to the region in terms of a process of accountability throughout the region in relationship to these kinds of concerns,&rdquo; Jones said.</p><p>Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas admits his city may not face the same the same challenges as other Northwest Indiana in terms of population, crime, diversity and struggling economies.</p><p>&ldquo;Clearly, it&rsquo;s a much different policing environment in more urban cities and in cities the incidents of crime can be higher depending on where you&rsquo;re at,&rdquo; Costas said.</p><p>But regardless of a city&rsquo;s challenges, Costas&rsquo; message to police officers &mdash; especially rookies &mdash; is clear and constant.</p><p>&ldquo;You have a lot of authority and you have an advantage of force over others in a significant way,&rdquo; Costas said. &ldquo;You must carry that with humility and respect for the citizens.&rdquo;</p><p>Attorney Trent McCain says having a better system of accountability in place could save cities and towns money.</p><p>&ldquo;The number of lawsuits against Northwest Indiana cities and towns like Hammond can be reduced if a fair, transparent process existed where citizens can voice their complaints against police,&rdquo; McCain said.</p><p>Maldonado says after her complaint about the dog shooting was dismissed she no longer felt comfortable living in Hammond and moved back to her native Cicero, Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;I loved it in Hammond. I really did,&rdquo; Maldonado said.</p><p>Maldonado said she was left to explain to her children that police are there to protect them, not bring harm.</p><p>&ldquo;Not all cops are bad. There are a bunch of bad apples out there but not all of them are bad and it&rsquo;s sad that to this day we never had an apology from them, and that&rsquo;s all I really asked for in the beginning and they never gave us that,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. declined to comment for this story.</p><p>Sunday&rsquo;s rally to address concerns about police brutality will be held outside McDermott&rsquo;s city hall office.</p></p> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/recent-incidents-cast-doubt-hammond-police-accountability-critics-say-111228 Who polices the police? In Chicago, it's increasingly ex-cops http://www.wbez.org/news/who-polices-police-chicago-its-increasingly-ex-cops-111194 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P1080151cropscale.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 236px; width: 350px;" title="Protests like this one at Chicago police headquarters last week have become frequent since August, when an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, shot to death an unarmed 18-year-old. Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority, the city agency in charge of investigating shootings by cops, has never found one to be unjustified. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Public officials around the country are grappling with how to handle police officers accused of using deadly force without justification. In New York City, it&rsquo;s an officer whose chokehold led to the death of a 43-year-old man in July. In Cleveland, it&rsquo;s&nbsp;a cop who fatally shot a 12-year-old last month. In Ferguson, Missouri, tempers are still hot about the August shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old.</p><p>Then there&rsquo;s Chicago. Since 2007, according to city records, police gunfire has killed at least 116 people and injured another 258. The city&rsquo;s Independent Police Review Authority, the agency in charge of investigating those shootings, has not found a single one to be unjustified.</p><p>Now a WBEZ investigation raises questions about just how independent the agency is. City records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show that IPRA&rsquo;s management now includes six former cops &mdash; officials who have spent most of their career in sworn law enforcement. Those include the agency&rsquo;s top three leaders.</p><p>&ldquo;Complaints may be seen not through the eyes of the citizen but through the eyes of a police officer,&rdquo; said Paula Tillman, a former IPRA investigative supervisor who was a Chicago cop herself in the 1970s and 1980s. &ldquo;The investigations can be engineered so that they have a tilt toward law enforcement and not what the citizen is trying to say.&rdquo;</p><p>Tillman, who left IPRA in 2012, said she noticed a tilt in some of those shooting probes.</p><p>Experts say a paucity of sustained excessive-force complaints is not unusual for a police-oversight agency, even in a big city. But it was not supposed to be that way in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;One misconduct [incident] is one too many and I think people want openness &mdash; transparency from the police department,&rdquo; Mayor Richard M. Daley said in 2007 when he announced the formation of IPRA in response to a series of scandals, most memorably a video recording that showed a beefy off-duty cop named Anthony Abbate beating up a petite bartender who had refused to serve him.</p><p>Previously, police-brutality complaints against Chicago cops were handled by the Office of Professional Standards, a unit of the police department itself.</p><p>Daley moved the agency under his direct supervision and gave it subpoena power. He also kept civilians in charge of IPRA to counter what he called &ldquo;the perception&rdquo; that investigations into alleged police misconduct were tainted by cops.</p><p>Seven years later, that perception still dogs the agency. But IPRA Chief Administrator Scott Ando, a former high-ranking U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, told WBEZ he had no bias that would favor an officer who pulls the trigger.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ando3crop.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 205px; width: 250px;" title="Scott Ando, a former top U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, now heads Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority. His management team includes six former cops. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />&ldquo;What I really have is a sense of pride in 33 years of a professional law-enforcement career,&rdquo; Ando said. &ldquo;Every time someone, no matter where they&rsquo;re from, tarnishes that reputation of law enforcement, it offends me. And I can assure you that everybody that works for me that&rsquo;s [from] law enforcement, and otherwise, takes what we do very seriously.&rdquo;</p><p>Besides Ando, IPRA&rsquo;s leadership includes First Deputy Chief Administrator Steven Mitchell, another former top DEA agent, and Deputy Chief Administrator Steven Hirsch, a former criminal investigation chief of the Illinois Department of Revenue. IPRA investigative supervisors include former Chicago police Cmdr. Lorenzo Davis, former high-ranking DEA agent David Marzullo, and Joshua Hunt, a former homicide detective in Savannah, Georgia.</p><p>Ando said he had hired former cops because of their expertise in everything from management to investigation to police procedures. Plus, he pointed out, those former cops are part of a 90-member staff.</p><p>&ldquo;We also have 11 attorneys,&rdquo; Ando said, including several with a background in criminal defense. &ldquo;When you get to the investigative ranks, the vast majority have come from inspector-general offices, corporate-security firms [and] background investigations.&rdquo;</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who tapped Ando to head IPRA last year, did not answer WBEZ when we asked whether the agency&rsquo;s management shift conflicted with its oversight mission. He referred our questions to IPRA, whose spokesman sent a statement praising the agency&rsquo;s &ldquo;balanced workforce&rdquo; and listing recent community outreach efforts, including a new brochure and the creation of a satellite office and an advisory board.</p><p>Ando said he and the other former cops on his staff have helped IPRA increase its rate of sustained police-misconduct complaints.</p><p>One recent IPRA investigation led to Cook County felony charges against a police district commander, Glenn Evans, for allegedly inserting the barrel of his handgun down a 22-year-old&rsquo;s throat last year while pressing a Taser to his crotch and threatening to kill him &mdash; a case revealed by WBEZ. (Ando in April recommended that Supt. Garry McCarthy strip Evans of police powers. But McCarthy, backed by Emanuel, did not remove Evans from the command post until the charges were brought more than four months later.)</p><p>Ando said the former cops on his staff have also been crucial in reducing a case backlog. &ldquo;The average investigator &mdash; not that long ago, maybe 18-24 months ago &mdash; had a caseload of 35 on average,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Now they&rsquo;re down to about 15. It gives us time to really work correctly and diligently on the ones that deserve the greatest attention &mdash; the most serious allegations.&rdquo;</p><p>Samuel Walker, a University of Nebraska at Omaha criminologist, says it is common for the independence of police-oversight agencies to erode. He said police unions sometimes convince politicians to curb an agency&rsquo;s powers. Or, as in Chicago, the mayor allows former cops to take the lead.</p><p>&ldquo;They make the argument that somebody with a law-enforcement background is going to better understand policing and be able to do a better job of assessing complaints,&rdquo; Walker said.</p><p>But he thinks this argument only goes so far. &ldquo;Public perception of independence is critically important in terms of the credibility of the agency,&rdquo; Walker said. &ldquo;As you staff it with people with law-enforcement backgrounds, you&rsquo;re going to create distrust.&rdquo;</p><p>That distrust, Walker said, means police brutality may go unreported and unpunished.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/who-polices-police-chicago-its-increasingly-ex-cops-111194 Disbelief by some in Hammond after accused cops are reinstated http://www.wbez.org/news/disbelief-some-hammond-after-accused-cops-are-reinstated-111159 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/hammond_1.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated 11/25/2014 at 4 p.m.</em></p><p>Two Hammond, Indiana police officers involved in a controversial traffic stop that invited comparisons to Ferguson, Missouri are back on patrol after the mayor asserted they were cleared of any wrongdoing by the FBI.</p><p>But now&nbsp;the FBI agent in charge of the investigation, Bob Ramsey, denies that, saying the case is ongoing and the officers have yet to be cleared.</p><div>&quot;At this point, no,&quot; Ramsey said. &quot;The Hammond police department has been very open with us, very cooperative, very forthcoming through this entire process. They have provided us information pertaining to the events that happened on the day of question. However, we are still in the process of gathering additional information and a review is not complete at this point.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Asked to respond, Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. is sticking to his guns.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He says he received a letter on Sunday from another FBI agent that the officers were cleared and it was appropriate to put them back on patrol.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Officers Patrick Vicari and Charles Turner, who are white, were caught on video smashing a window and tasing an unarmed black passenger during an incident that stirred outrage at both the local and national level.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The news of their reinstatement came just hours before a Grand Jury decided not to indict the police officer at the center of events in Ferguson.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Now that we received the results back from the FBI, I made the decision, we made the decision to place both of these officers back on duty,&rdquo; McDermott. said Monday afternoon. &ldquo;They will be back on duty immediately.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lavance Turner, a student at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, was perplexed by the decision.</div><p>&ldquo;I really do believe that was a complete violation of any and everything regarding [the passenger&rsquo;s] personal well being and how they went about it,&rdquo; Turner said.</p><p>He and fellow student Michael Carson reacted to the news while watching the Ferguson Grand Jury announcement on TV in the student center on campus.</p><p>&ldquo;You see that! They&rsquo;re about to riot. No indictment?&rdquo; said the 22-year-old Carson moments after the decision was read by the prosecutor in St. Louis County, Missouri.</p><p>The two students were equally baffled that criminal charges weren&rsquo;t filed against the two Hammond police officers who had been on desk duty the past few weeks.</p><p>The case stemmed from an incident on Sept. 24 when Lisa Mahone, a black motorist was pulled over for not wearing her seatbelt.</p><p>Officers Vicari and Turner stopped Mahone, 27, on 169th Street near Cline Avenue in the city&rsquo;s Hessville neighborhood.</p><p>The officers&rsquo; attention quickly turned to a front seat passenger in the car, 42-year-old Jamal Jones. They ordered him to produce identification and get out of the car. After Jones spent several tense minutes trying to explain he had no I.D. and refusing to exit the vehicle, officers smashed the passenger window, used a taser and arrested Jones.</p><p>Much of the incident was recorded on a cell phone by Mahone&rsquo;s 14-year-old son in the backseat. A young girl also sitting in the rear of the vehicle is heard crying in the video.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="465" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/XsW-QCxXkQA?showinfo=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>The video went viral and Purdue Cal student Lavance Turner says he watched it dozens of times on social media.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t really resist physically if you&rsquo;re in your own car. So, I don&rsquo;t understand if the officer felt threatened. It was really strange,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>A Hammond police spokesman said the officers feared for their safety when one officer said he saw Jones drop his hands behind the center console of the vehicle.</p><p>Mayor McDermott was steadfast in his defense of Officers Turner and Vicari.</p><p>&ldquo;If we condone this type of behavior and make it so that every time a person who is pulled over for a seat belt violation or anything else that it can drag on for 15 or 20 minutes for something as simple as someone handing over an ID,&rdquo; McDermott said.&nbsp; &ldquo;If that&rsquo;s the America that we&rsquo;re heading towards, that&rsquo;s not going to be an ideal place to live.&rdquo;</p><p>Lisa Mahone and Jamal Jones filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Hammond Police Department.</p><p>Their attorney, Dana Kurtz, says McDermott is part of the problem.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not just officers engaging in excessive force, it&rsquo;s police departments and, especially in this case, the mayor of the city of Hammond, condoning what these officers did,&rdquo; Kurtz said. &ldquo;That just encourages this kind of conduct to continue.&rdquo;</p><p>McDermott has long rejected the comparisons to Ferguson by pundits. But he says the incident has impressed upon him that he needs to work closer with the city&rsquo;s African-American population.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think there are any winners or losers in this. I can tell you the Mayor of Hammond has heard the frustrations loud and clear,&rdquo; McDermott said.</p><p>The Hammond chapter of the NAACP is pushing the city to hire more African American police officers. Currently, the Hammond Police Department has 9 black officers out of a force of 151.</p><p>Blacks account for 20 percent of Hammond&rsquo;s 80,000 residents.</p><p>&ldquo;The (African-American) numbers in the Hammond Police Department are too low and I&rsquo;m going to fix that,&rdquo; McDermott said.</p><p>Rev. Homer Cobb, head of Hammond&rsquo;s NAACP, said he always had his doubts about whether the FBI actually cleared the officers, and he still thinks the controversial traffic stop could&rsquo;ve been better handled.</p><p>But Cobb adds he appreciates the dialogue that&rsquo;s been established with the mayor and police department since then.</p><p>&ldquo;I wouldn&rsquo;t consider Hammond to be as volatile as Ferguson but there&rsquo;s every bit of a concern all across the nation because we&rsquo;re dealing with profiling and events happening without accountability,&rdquo; Cobb said. &ldquo;What we want is a better Hammond.</p><p><em>Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly stated that the FBI had cleared the two police officers of any wrongdoing. That was according to Hammond mayor Tom McDermott, Jr. The story has now been updated with direct comment from the FBI.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/disbelief-some-hammond-after-accused-cops-are-reinstated-111159 Prosecutors want more of indicted police commander's 'bad acts' in court http://www.wbez.org/news/prosecutors-want-more-indicted-police-commanders-bad-acts-court-110987 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/glen_evans8 SQUARE.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><br />Cook County prosecutors on Thursday told a judge they would try to bring other &ldquo;crimes and bad acts&rdquo; into a felony case against a Chicago police commander.</p><p>Glenn Evans, photographed on his way out of the hearing by Charlie Billups for WBEZ, allegedly jammed his gun into an arrested man&rsquo;s mouth last year, pressed a taser to his crotch and threatened his life. Last month Evans pleaded not guilty to nine counts of aggravated battery and official misconduct.</p><p>During his 28 years in the police department, Evans has drawn at least 52 brutality complaints. Two led to 15-day suspensions from duty. Six others have led to federal lawsuits that the city paid to settle.</p><p>Evans&rsquo; attorney, Laura Morask, calls that history irrelevant. She says what matters are the allegations in the case&rsquo;s indictment, which focuses on the incident last year.</p><p>The commander, meanwhile, is trying to find out how a DNA report in the case went public. Morask is demanding records from WBEZ and the Independent Police Review Authority, one of several government entities that had the report. At the hearing, Morask said the records would show bias on the part of the case&rsquo;s investigators.</p><p>The judge, Rosemary Grant Higgins, pushed back. She said she would hear more from all sides but warned, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not this court&rsquo;s job to plug leaks or interfere with the press.&rdquo;</p><p>From our West Side bureau, WBEZ&#39;s Chip Mitchell joined the&nbsp;&ldquo;Afternoon Shift&rdquo;&nbsp;with this update (click the photo above). For background, see all <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/glenn-evans">our coverage about the Evans case</a>.</p></p> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/prosecutors-want-more-indicted-police-commanders-bad-acts-court-110987 Hammond mayor rejects comparisons to Ferguson http://www.wbez.org/news/hammond-mayor-rejects-comparisons-ferguson-110916 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/hammond.png" alt="" /><p><p>The breakfast was the same, but the conversation among regulars at Frankie&rsquo;s Restaurant in Hammond, Ind. yesterday morning was a little livelier than usual.</p><p>Many, like Michael Bullock and John Gunn, were buzzing&nbsp;about a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsW-QCxXkQA">video that has gone viral on YouTube</a> and attracted national media attention.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="465" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/XsW-QCxXkQA?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;He just mentioned the video,&rdquo; the 52-year-old Bullock said as I joined them at their table.</p><p>The video, recorded from the back seat by the driver&#39;s 14-year-old son, captured a Sept. 24 confrontation between the police and two adults in the car. It&rsquo;s now the basis of a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court against several officers and the city of Hammond.</p><p>After police pulled over the driver, Lisa Mahone, for a minor seatbelt violation officers demanded that passenger Jamal Jones produce identification &mdash; something the lawsuit says Jones did not have with him.</p><p>After several tense minutes, the video shows an officer smashing the front passenger-side window with a club, showering shards of glass on the vehicle&#39;s four occupants, including Mahone&#39;s son and daughter in the back seat. An officer then stuns Jones with a taser before dragging him out and arresting him.</p><p>The incident happened on 169th Street and Cline Avenue, very close to Frankie&rsquo;s Restaurant.</p><p>From what he&rsquo;s seen of the video, John Gunn believes the officers overstepped their bounds.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t see the justification for knocking the window out,&rdquo; Gunn, 62, said. And they got a kid in the back seat. Now, how does that affect the kids?&rdquo;</p><p>Hammond&nbsp;police&nbsp;spokesman Lt. Richard Hoyda issued an earlier statement saying Jones had refused to comply with orders to get out of the car and that officers were concerned for their safety after seeing him &quot;repeatedly reach towards the rear seats of the vehicle.&quot;</p><p>Neither Gunn nor Bullock say they&rsquo;ve had a bad experience with Hammond police. But Bullock says he makes sure to cooperate when he&rsquo;s pulled over. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;When they get my license and they see that I&rsquo;m 6&rsquo;6&rdquo; and weigh over 300 pounds that in itself creates an issue,&rdquo; Bullock said. &ldquo;I see it in their eyes that it becomes an issue so I&rsquo;ve personally stepped back from not presenting any drama.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, Bullock says he&rsquo;s not surprised that a racially-charged police incident occurred in Northwest Indiana.</p><p>&ldquo;This is one of the most segregated areas in the country. You&rsquo;ve got whites in their area, blacks in their area, Latinos in their area and there&rsquo;s no really intermingling,&rdquo; Bullock said.</p><p>But Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr. doesn&rsquo;t see his city the same way Bullock does. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Hammond&rsquo;s a very diverse city. The people that live in Hammond know that it&rsquo;s a diverse city and they&rsquo;re comfortable with it,&rdquo; McDermott told WBEZ on Wednesday afternoon at his City Hall office.</p><p>Since the incident came to light, McDermott&rsquo;s been fending off comparisons by the national media and others to what happened in Ferguson, Missouri two months ago.</p><p>&ldquo;They want this to be another Ferguson but it&rsquo;s not, and it&rsquo;s not going to be,&rdquo; McDermott, who is also an attorney, said.</p><p>McDermott says the city&rsquo;s 211 member police department reflects the 80-thousand residents, where nearly half are white, 30 percent Latino and a quarter black.</p><p>&ldquo;Around 25 percent of our officers are either Hispanic or African-American. It&rsquo;s important for the police department to reflect the community,&rdquo; McDermott said.</p><p>The Mayor defends the actions of his officers, saying the cell phone video shot by the 14 year old son of Lisa Mahone doesn&rsquo;t tell the whole story.</p><p>&ldquo;The video that they&rsquo;ve seen is 3 minutes long, and it&rsquo;s minutes 11, 12 and 13 of a 13 minute traffic stop,&rdquo; McDermott said. &ldquo;A lot of stuff happened that led up to this video.&rdquo;</p><p>Apparently a longer video was recorded from the officers&rsquo; squad car, but the city has yet to release it.</p><p>McDermott says that video shows officers repeatedly asking Jones to exit the vehicle, but he refuses and fails to show identification.</p><p>&ldquo;999 times out of 1,000, the person is going to show identification. This didn&rsquo;t happen in this case and things escalated more than I wish it would have,&rdquo; McDermott said.</p><p>But some Hammond residents sympathize with the officers. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;When a police officer stops you and asks you for something, I just believe that you should comply. Don&rsquo;t be suspicious, don&rsquo;t provoke any other actions,&rdquo; said longtime Hammond resident Nilda Rivera.</p><p>Rivera, 46, says she&rsquo;s always felt safe and has never had issues with police. As for the video that&rsquo;s captured the nation&rsquo;s attention, she wants to know why it exists at all.</p><p>&ldquo;That kind of makes you wonder what is this child is being told about the police? Are they being forced to think the worse thing is going to happen and in that respect is that why they were video taping,&rdquo; Rivera said.</p><p>But in the wake of other high-profile racially charged incidents, is it possible the cops may have also assumed the worst about the passengers in the car?</p><p>Michael McCafferty is a one-time Chicago police officer who now teaches law and criminal justice at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Hammond. He also is chair of the college&rsquo;s Public Safety Institute.</p><p>&ldquo;Police are very sensitive to what&rsquo;s occurring. I think officers are more likely to try to avoid these incidents right now,&rdquo; McCafferty said. &ldquo;These videos can go viral. You can go to work in the morning as a patrol officer and then being sued or facing charges or losing your job that afternoon.&rdquo;</p><p>According to the lawsuit, Jones had surrendered his driver&#39;s license after being stopped for not paying his insurance and instead tried to show the officers a ticket with his information on it. The lawsuit says the officers rejected the ticket, but police said Jones had refused to hand it over.</p><p>The complaint alleges officers shocked Jones a second time after removing him from the car, and accuses them of excessive force, false arrest, assault and battery and other charges. It seeks unspecified damages.</p><p>The lawsuit mentions that two of the officers had been sued in the past for excessive force or unlawful arrest. Court records indicate an undisclosed settlement in one of the cases.</p><p>As of now, Patrick Vicari and Charles Turner, the two Hammond officers named in the lawsuit remain on active duty.</p><p><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/mikepuentenews">@MikePuenteNews</a> and on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/WBEZ-Northwest-Indiana-Bureau/701257506570573">WBEZ&rsquo;s NWI Bureau Facebook page</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 07:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/hammond-mayor-rejects-comparisons-ferguson-110916 Chicago police commander stripped of power, faces felony charges http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-commander-stripped-power-faces-felony-charges-110720 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Evans 1tightcrop_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated Aug. 28, 10 p.m.</em></p><p>Prosecutors say a veteran Chicago police commander accused of misconduct chased a suspect into an abandoned building, stuck a gun down his throat and held a stun gun to his groin.</p><p>Assistant Cook County State&#39;s Attorney Lauren Freeman says DNA found on the gun is a match for the suspect who alleges he was abused during a January 2013 arrest.</p><p>Commander Glenn Evans, 52, is facing felony charges related to an excessive-force complaint filed by the man arrested.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/glenn-evans">Read all our coverage about Cmdr. Glenn Evans</a></strong></p><p dir="ltr">Evans has been on the Chicago police force for 28 years. He climbed the ranks, earning awards for valor and merit while serving in some of the city&rsquo;s toughest neighborhoods. Evans also gained a reputation among the rank-and-file, and residents in the districts he served, as an aggressive, hard-working cop.</p><p dir="ltr">Dozens of excessive-force complaints have been filed against Evans over the years, but none quite like those alleged &nbsp;in bond court Thursday.</p><p>Evans was on patrol in the Grand Crossing neighborhood, where he was serving as district commander at the time. He was responding to a report of shots fired in the area when he saw a man he believed to be armed. Evans announced his office and approached the man, who took off on foot. Evans pursued the suspect into an abandoned building--there, he found an unarmed Rickey Williams, 22, in a doorless closet.</p><p>As WBEZ <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cpd-leaves-commander-post-despite-assault-allegation-dna-match-110581">first reported</a>, an Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) investigation alleges Evans proceeded to stick his .45 caliber, Smith and Wesson, semi-automatic pistol deep down the Williams&#39; throat while holding a taser to his groin.</p><p>Assistant State&rsquo;s Attorney Freeman spoke in support of bond Thursday. She said as Evans allegedly held both weapons to the victim, he threatened to kill him if Williams did not tell him where the guns were. No guns were recovered at the scene, but Williams was charged with a misdemeanor reckless conduct offense, which was later dismissed.</p><p>Within three days of the incident, Williams had shared his story--and his DNA--with &nbsp;IPRA. The sample was to be compared to a swab of Evans&rsquo; gun, which was taken on February 1, 2013. It was a couple of months before the samples were sent off to the crime lab for analysis. According to Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez, the results did not come back until the following April.</p><p>&ldquo;As I always say, DNA results are not obtained in 30 minutes like you see on TV,&rdquo; Alvarez said.</p><p>After IPRA received the results, it turned over its findings to Alvarez&rsquo;s office for criminal investigation. It also recommended to the police department that Evans be stripped of his police powers. That didn&rsquo;t happen until Wednesday, when Evans was officially charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct.</p><p>Evans did not speak at his bond hearing Thursday. But his attorney, Laura Morask, vehemently denied the allegations, calling the investigation &quot;incredibly flawed.&quot;</p><p>She says neither IPRA nor the state&rsquo;s attorney&rsquo;s office asked for Evans&rsquo; account of the incident in their respective investigations.</p><p>Asked whether her office had interviewed Evans, Alvarez said, &ldquo;I won&rsquo;t comment on any statements that were, or were not, made.&rdquo;</p><p>It&#39;s another blow to a department dogged by a reputation for misconduct. Evans is among more than 660 officers who, according to recently released police records, had at least 11 misconduct complaints during a recent five-year period. The records show Evans was not disciplined in any of the incidents.</p><p>Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who promoted Evans in 2012 and has praised him, vigorously defended him at a news conference Monday. Before the bond hearing Thursday, McCarthy issued a release saying that if the alleged actions are true they are &quot;unacceptable.&quot;</p><p>Evans left court without having to pay bail. Judge Laura Sullivan set a recognizance bond of $100,000, which means Evans doesn&rsquo;t have to post bail unless he fails to appear in court. He didn&rsquo;t have to speak with reporters either. The commander, and his attorneys, slipped out a back exit.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 00:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-commander-stripped-power-faces-felony-charges-110720 Morning Shift: Playing the political game at the State Fair http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-08-13/morning-shift-playing-political-game-state-fair <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ROB THURMAN.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We check in with our political reporters Tony Arnold and Alex Keefe for the latest from the Illinois State Fair. What issues are gaining traction for voters? And, we talk to a community activist about the effectiveness to taking to the streets to protest police behavior.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-how-effective-is-police-protesting/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-how-effective-is-police-protesting.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-how-effective-is-police-protesting" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Playing the political game at the State Fair" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 08:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-08-13/morning-shift-playing-political-game-state-fair Advocates want more accountability from Independent Police Review Authority http://www.wbez.org/news/advocates-want-more-accountability-independent-police-review-authority-108644 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/isadora_ruyter_harcourt_flickr_police.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://www.iprachicago.org/">The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA)</a> is suppose to provide oversight of the police, but a group of advocates say IPRA itself needs oversight.</p><p>The Leaders Network, a group of prominent clergy, say IPRA doesn&rsquo;t hold the police accountable, citing a Chicago Reporter study that found IPRA only sustained <a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/news/2012/05/abusing-badge">1% of complaints</a>.</p><p>Ashunda Harris says her family&#39;s case is an example of what can go wrong. Her nephew, Aaron Harrison was killed in 2007 by Chicago police. IPRA found the shooting was justified, but last month a jury disagreed and <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&amp;id=9209133">awarded the family $8.5 million.</a></p><p>The director&rsquo;s position at IPRA is currently vacant and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2013/august_2013/mayor_emanuel_namescommitteetoselectnewiprachief.html">assembled a committee </a>to appoint the next director. The committee includes the activist pastor <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Pfleger">Michael Pfleger </a>and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillard_Heintze">Terry G. Hillard</a>, former Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. The advocates say the want the mayor to promise that the person he appoints will have backing from community leaders. Advocates also want &nbsp;an independent civilian group to hold that director accountable by reviewing and critiquing IPRA&rsquo;s annual report.</p><p>The Leadership Network&rsquo;s Marshall Hatch says having good police oversight is an important part of fighting crime, &ldquo;As a person who pastors in West Garfield Park and lives in Austin, we want people to believe in the police. We want the police and people to work together to solve crime. But you can&rsquo;t do that until people have confidence in the police department.&rdquo;</p><p>The Mayor&rsquo;s office was unable to provide comment in time for this story.</p><p>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></p></p> Tue, 10 Sep 2013 09:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/advocates-want-more-accountability-independent-police-review-authority-108644 Vincent Teninty raises Pine Box Theater Company from the dead http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-27/vincent-teninty-raises-pine-box-theater-company-dead-89702 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-July/2011-07-27/DSC_5787 copy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p> <style type="text/css"> <!--{cke_protected}{C}%3C!%2D%2D%0A%20%2F*%20Font%20Definitions%20*%2F%0A%40font-face%0A%09%7Bfont-family%3A%22Times%20New%20Roman%22%3B%0A%09panose-1%3A0%202%202%206%203%205%204%205%202%203%3B%0A%09mso-font-charset%3A0%3B%0A%09mso-generic-font-family%3Aauto%3B%0A%09mso-font-pitch%3Avariable%3B%0A%09mso-font-signature%3A50331648%200%200%200%201%200%3B%7D%0A%20%2F*%20Style%20Definitions%20*%2F%0Ap.MsoNormal%2C%20li.MsoNormal%2C%20div.MsoNormal%0A%09%7Bmso-style-parent%3A%22%22%3B%0A%09margin%3A0in%3B%0A%09margin-bottom%3A.0001pt%3B%0A%09mso-pagination%3Awidow-orphan%3B%0A%09font-size%3A18.0pt%3B%0A%09font-family%3A%22Times%20New%20Roman%22%3B%7D%0Atable.MsoNormalTable%0A%09%7Bmso-style-parent%3A%22%22%3B%0A%09font-size%3A10.0pt%3B%0A%09font-family%3A%22Times%20New%20Roman%22%3B%7D%0A%40page%20Section1%0A%09%7Bsize%3A8.5in%2011.0in%3B%0A%09margin%3A1.0in%201.25in%201.0in%201.25in%3B%0A%09mso-header-margin%3A.5in%3B%0A%09mso-footer-margin%3A.5in%3B%0A%09mso-paper-source%3A0%3B%7D%0Adiv.Section1%0A%09%7Bpage%3ASection1%3B%7D%0A%2D%2D%3E--></style> </p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-27/Vincent Teninty.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 370px; margin: 10px; float: right;" title="Pine Box artistic director Vincent Teninty">“I trust Steve [Pickering], as far as throwing me against the wall or slamming my head against the table, so I’m never afraid of getting hurt,” says Vincent Teninty, now performing in the brutally physical <em>A Girl With Sun in Her Eyes</em>. “I fear more for the audience, getting scared. We’ve had some women in the front row that, the look of fear in their eyes during that fight …”</p><p>Pickering plays a burnt-out cop, and Teninty a hapless hungover salesman, in <a href="http://www.pineboxtheater.org/">Joshua Rollins’s brand-new police procedural</a>, featuring <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/peter-pans-matt-hawkins-takes-flight">Matt Hawkins’s bone-rattling fight choreography</a>. Because of the small stage, Teninty says, “It’s basically television—it’s right there. So it had to be clean and crisp, but at the same time it had to look dirty and gritty.” It does, in spades.</p><p>The other hat Teninty wears in this production: he’s the new artistic director of Pine Box Theater Company, which went dormant in 2008. Since then, he says, “We’ve thrown around scripts, had a couple readings, trying to decide, ‘OK, if we do come back, what’s the right show to come back with?’ [Director] Matt Miller gave this script to Pine Box in December of 2010, and I said, ‘This is the one we need to go with.’”</p><p>“Every single one of the characters has a hidden truth, has something to hide,” says Teninty. “And our mission statement is a quote from Galileo: All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered. The point is to discover them.”</p><p>Teninty is arguably typecast in his role: a married father of three-year-old twins, he talks on Pine Box’s <a href="http://girlwithsun.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/what-if-i-had-by-vincent-teninty/">blog about a real-life solicitation by a prostitute</a>. That’s pure coincidence, he says, but acknowledges the character is like him. “That made it easier to kind of jump-start into the role: ‘OK, I know who this guy is, cuz he’s me!’ But then [director] Matt Miller really wanted to dig a little deeper. I was hiding myself, almost ashamed of who I was and the fact that this character and I had so much in common.” He calls his revelatory reminiscence in a hotel room “probably one of the toughest monologues I have done to date, simply because a lot of it rings true. Having to reveal that every night is very, very tough.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-27/LandyandWilliam2.jpg" style="width: 283px; height: 425px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="Steve Pickering and Vincent Teninty in 'A Girl With Sun in Her Eyes' ">Of the six actors in <em>Girl</em>, four are Equity, including Pine Box company members Teninty and Audrey Francis. Now the other Equity performers—Pickering and Karen Aldridge—are joining Pine Box, in a well-deserved coup for Teninty. How does a little itinerant company that’s only recently resurfaced pay Equity wages and bennies? “You’ve got to find ways to raise money nontraditionally,” Teninty says. “From December till opening, I raised over $31,000 to put this together, cuz I knew that it was going to be a nice chunk of change—which the play absolutely deserved. I schmooze, wheel and deal, and do a lot of kissing butt.”</p><p>Pine Box is planning to announce a two-show season plus a possible remount of <em>A Girl With Sun in Her Eyes</em>, which closes on August 7. One of the two plays will probably be another by Joshua Rollins. “That kid is amazing,” says Teninty. “I mean, he poops scripts.”</p><p>“This has been a massive learning curve for me,” Teninty adds. “It’s our first Equity show, and being an Equity producer, and figuring out finances. I’m always thinking, like, ‘What about next week?’ And I’ve got to do this and I’ve got to do that, and it just never stops. My wife is always reminding me, ‘Hey, look what you’ve accomplished so far. Look at everything you’ve done.’ But I can’t right now, I can’t.’”</p></p> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 14:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-27/vincent-teninty-raises-pine-box-theater-company-dead-89702 How long will Burge serve? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/how-long-will-burge-serve <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/burge rex arbogast.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some of the cases that convinced then Gov. Ryan to enact a moratorium involved men who accused Chicago police officers of torture. The man at the center of that history is former Police Commander Jon Burge. Burge is scheduled to be sentenced next Thursday for obstruction of justice and perjury.</p><p>Estimates of how harsh his sentence will be are all over the place -- as high as 30 years to as low as probation. Attorneys on both sides are readying their final arguments. WBEZ's criminal justice reporter Robert Wildeboer joined &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; to talk to us about the legal strategies in this case.</p><p><em>Music Button: The Black Heart Procession, &quot;Heaven Below&quot;, from the CD Blood Bunny/Black Rabbit, (Temporary Residence)</em></p></p> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 14:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/how-long-will-burge-serve